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Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest

by Zeynep Tufekci Yale University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 360 pages
AU$29.99 NZ$32.17
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.
To understand a thwarted Turkish coup, an anti–Wall Street encampment, and a packed Tahrir Square, we must first comprehend the power and the weaknesses of using new technologies to mobilize large numbers of people. An incisive observer, writer, and participant in today’s social movements, Zeynep Tufekci explains in this accessible and compelling book the nuanced trajectories of modern protests—how they form, how they operate differently from past protests, and why they have difficulty persisting in their long-term quests for change.


Tufekci speaks from direct experience, combining on-the-ground interviews with insightful analysis. She describes how the internet helped the Zapatista uprisings in Mexico, the necessity of remote Twitter users to organize medical supplies during Arab Spring, the refusal to use bullhorns in the Occupy Movement that started in New York, and the empowering effect of tear gas in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. These details from life inside social movements complete a moving investigation of authority, technology, and culture—and offer essential insights into the future of governance.

"[Tufekci's] personal experience in the squares and streets, melded with her scholarly insights on technology and communication platforms, makes Twitter and Tear Gas such an unusual and illuminating work . . . . Will be long cited, deservedly, by activists, technologists, and others grasping at the relationship between our causes and our screens. Twitter and Tear Gas is a book that, superimposed on a seemingly familiar landscape, utterly transforms the view."—Carlos Lozada, Washington Post

"This comprehensive, thought-provoking work makes a valuable contribution to understanding recent political developments and provides a clear path by which grassroots organizers can improve future efforts."—Publishers Weekly

"Twitter and Tear Gas is packed with evidence on how social media has changed social movements, based on rigorous research and placed in historical context."—Hannah Kuchler, Financial Times

"Insightful and entertaining. . . . Twitter and Tear Gas is infused with a richness of detail stemming from [Tufekci's] personal participation in the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey. . . . Tufekci writes with a warmth and respect for the humans that are part of these powerful social movements, gently intertwining her own story with the stories of others, big data, and theory."—Bruce Schneier, Motherboard

"Tufekci understands 21st-century protest movements both as a scholar and as a participant, from the Arab Spring to Zucotti Park. In Twitter and Tear Gas, she merges her experiences into a singularly brilliant examination of how movements work and when they don't."—Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus

"A striking and original conclusion: today’s low barrier for organizing a movement can also lead to its long-term frustrations. Tufekci’s superb book will define the debate on social protest for years to come."—Dani Rodrik, author of Economic Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science

"A brilliant work. In a world of tweet-sized summary judgments, Tufekci provides readers with a depth of analysis and important insights that ought to be read by every diplomat and activist."—Alec Ross, former Senior Advisor for Innovation, U.S. Department of State

"Tufekci is undoubtedly the most qualified person in the world to explain the meaning of political collective actions catalyzed and coordinated by social media. She knows the technology, the social science, and the politics—and she is the rare academic observer who was at the scene, from Istanbul to Cairo to New York."—Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution

"Informative and exciting read! Tufekci is in the perfect spot between activist and researcher to provide insights that only few can. This book sets new grounds for the analysis of social media and political mobilization."—Rasha Abdulla, author of The Internet in the Arab World: Egypt and Beyond

Zeynep Tufekci is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, and a faculty associate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.